DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has opted to go with some of his more experienced campaigners, despite resting a few players for Friday’s clash with the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park.
In comes veteran lock Anton van Zyl, hooker Tiaan Liebenberg as well as Springboks Jean de Villiers and Ricky Januarie for Andries Bekker, Deon Fourie, Juan de Jongh and Dewaldt Duvenage. Whilst the addition of Januarie at scrumhalf was necessitated by the injury to Duvenage, the coach felt it was time to give some of his players a break.
“Tiaan has been building up each week for a start and we feel that he is now ready to return to the starting line up. Deon has done exceptionally well starting every game this season, so it is time for him to get a rest. He also is very effective off the bench so we will be looking to him to fill that role.
“It is a similar story with Andries. He has played in every game this season, so we decided it was time to give him a rest like we did with Duane [Vermeulen] last week. It is also a great chance for Anton to start, having himself recently come back from injury.”
Coetzee said that the reason behind de Villiers selection was the need for experience. “Juan has played exceptionally well over the last few weeks, so it was a really tough decision to leave him out. I think though the experience of Jean will help flyhalf Kurt Coleman. This is only Kurt’s second start so we need to give him as much support as we can and I think the experience of Jean and Ricky at scrumhalf will do that.”
Whilst it would be understandable for the players to be thinking about their imminent return to Cape Town, Coetzee knows there job on tour is not nearly done. He said: “It is an important game for us this weekend. We desperately want to win and build on the momentum we have built in the last few weeks and to continue to improve on our performances. It would be very dangerous to take the Rebels lightly and so we are fully focused on what we have to do on Friday.”
DHL Stormers team: Conrad Jantjes, Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Kurt Coleman, Ricky Januarie, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Anton van Zyl, Rynhardt Elstadt, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: Deon Fourie, Frans Malherbe, Andries Bekker, Nick Koster, Louis Schreuder, Earl Rose, Juan de Jongh.